Monday, February 27, 2012

Sins of the Father, Sins of the Son

I'm going to post a pretty lengthy passage of scripture. I really hope you guys take the time to read it, because it illustrates the amazing character of God - His mercy and just judgement. It's Ezekiel 18. Guys, this is why it's also important to read the Old Testament. Get to know God for who He was and still is to this day.

So, this passage was really encouraging for me. I have a lot of fears that I will reap and have to handle the sins of my earthly father. I've battled fear that I will be forced to be like him and live life the way he has chosen to. This verse has been a scary one for me. "The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations." (Numbers 14:18)

Yikes. That's a little freaky. But wow! I was totally encouraged by this passage in Ezekiel. We really do serve and absolutely mind-boggling, flippin- amazing God. For real!

(Ezekiel 18:4-9) "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
 5 “But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness, 6 and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period— 7 if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 8 if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man, 9 if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully—he is righteous and will surely live,” declares the Lord GOD."

To rephrase, the righteous man will live.

(10-13) “Then he may have a violent son who sheds blood and who does any of these things to a brother 11 (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination, 13 he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head."

The unrighteous will die.

(14, 17b and18-20)“Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise....he will surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.19 Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. 20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

And here is where we see the just judgement of the Lord. Those who sin will die (second death) and those who are righteous will live. I find a lot of freedom in this verse. Certain people who have had sinful fathers or mothers, tough family situations or have been in abusive relationships can find JOY and FREEDOM in knowing that there is one person, only one, that they are responsible for before the face of God. His or herself. Just because your father did it wrong, doesn't mean that you are destined to live that life as well. Just because your mother died in unrighteousness, doesn't mean you will too. And it means that you don't have to carry that. Yes, the generations to come will see the results of her/his unfruitful life, but you won't have to live in bondage to that! How awesome! How just is our God!

(21-23)But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. 23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? 

What mercy. God is saying, "If you are an unrighteous man, but turn to my ways, NOTHING will be remembered against you." Folks, this is waaaaaay before Jesus died on the cross, but the Old Testament is still dripping with the Gospel! This is all about faith and trusting in Jesus and how life can be attained through turning to God, through His grace capturing our lives.

(29-32) But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord GOD. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

Repent and live. And prepare to be judged according to your own conduct. This should bring freedom to anyone who is oppressed. Hear the Word of the Lord. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Looking at a Little Star from the Warmth of My Home

Sometimes, things just randomly hit you. Looking out the window tonight, I saw the beautiful crescent moon and a star directly next to it. I was totally overcome at that little star. For a two reasons that are totally unrelated.

First, that star is so noticeable because it's right next to the moon. Isn't that how our lives are? We are something because God has us in His hands and in the shelter of His wings. We shine brightly because for some incomprehensible reason, God bestowed favor on us.

Second, it dawned on me that I was viewing that star from inside a home. Simple conclusion, but that fact is one that I don't take the time to dwell on. Then, it sent me to thinking about all the things I'm not.
I'm not homeless. On the contrary, I live in a nice, warm, big home.
I'm not hungry. I just got done eating soup.
I'm not alone. I have my mother always.
I'm not friendless. I have many, old and new.
I'm not uneducated. I have had great schooling.
I'm not unhealthy. My body serves me well - even though it doesn't run fast at practice.
I'm not lost. Jesus has found me.
I'm not persecuted. I freely exercise my faith in Christ.

Wow. Just that short little list is so awesome. I seriously complain so much of the freaking time about all the stuff going on in my life. But, when I look at people who have it worse than me, I realize how foolish and pointless my gripping is. Cause I'm so blessed. Really.

When I was at Shabbot last night, I learned something really cool. Jordan spoke and he said that his shadow will never know what it feels like to be the body. The shadow will never feel temperature, pain, or anything. I guess I tend to ask stupid questions, like "Why me, Father?" because of little things that are inconvenient for me. But, for God, everything that happens to me all plays out and fits the purpose and plan for the world and for me. I have to stop acting like I'm mistreated because I don't understand "why" something happens. I gotta just realize that I'm never going to be the body. I'm never going to be able to understand the depths and purpose for things, because my mind is entirely too finite. I can't wrap my mind around God and His purposes because God is just too big. I'm too small.

To conclude, I realized that I gotta stop acting ridiculous and put out about little things in my life because a) I'm blessed and b) I won't understand my Daddy's reasons.

^Scatterbrained post.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dear Boy,

I want to protect you. Everything I do is for your protection. The rules I have laid out are so that you will not make bad decisions and harm yourself and some precious young lady. You haven't listened. If you did, you would have heard My Word. You would have understood why I have asked the things I have. You would have desired to obey.

You complain, "Purity is too hard." But, I promise to walk every step with you. I promise to be your best friend and a crying shoulder when you need one. I promise to be the one you can turn to for strength. I promise to be the one you can count on for moral support. But, you've forgotten that I'm here.

You say, "I want fulfillment in a relationship now!" But, I warn you countless times. What you need is not a relationship with a beautiful young lady. What you need is a relationship with Me. Only I can give you what you need. You are too young and clumsy to handle someone's heart. With time, you will only break hers and damage your own. But, after you spend time with Me, I will teach you how to treat a heart with honor, respect and the highest love.

You demand, "Why can't I have her? Why can't she be mine?" Child, it is not time. Trust Me. She will only distract you and tempt you to stray from Me and worship her as your god. I have higher plans for you than that.

You say, "I'll fulfill my desires somewhere else." Son, have you heard anything I said? I said "Who can heap burning coals into his lap and not be burnt?" Flee from sexual immorality. Those images and what you choose to dwell on will only hurt you in the long run. It may create some satisfaction now, but I promise your disobedience will reap the true reward one day.

You promise, "I promise to take care of her." No, you don't. You have set yourself up for failure all along. How can you promise to take care of a woman's heart when all you've been is impatient, lustful, and discontent? You told her, "You are the only one for me" but then you look at pornography on the internet. How can I intrust a woman into your care? Only so she feels like she must compete with the trash you've allowed into your mind? Only to feel unworthy of the expectations you have? Only to feel like she doesn't have your whole heart? Never! I love my children too much! You haven't done anything, nor showed any responsibility worthy of possessing one of my beautiful children. The choices you are making now will affect the rest of your life. If you are unsatisfied and turn to porn or some other sexual habit for fulfillment, who says you won't in a marriage relationship. If you are too impatient to wait till marriage for sex, who says you won't have sex outside of marriage? If you don't care that much about her now, you will not treasure her heart later.

Stop playing around with my children. And for My sake, stop doing it in My name. You worship me and say, "God has set-up this relationship." No! Have you even consulted in Me or My Word? I am condemning this relationship. Anything that takes My place in your life, is not worthy or holy. I am to be first in everything.

You say, "Why hasn't anything worked for me?" Because you didn't listen. I warned you of the dangers of sexual sin and you proceeded anyway. You refused to discipline yourself to wait, and now, you've left a path of destruction. You've looked after one person - yourself. You sinned and sinned and lost everything that meant anything to you. Now, you have no satisfaction, no purity, no discipline to wait, and no girl to wait for.

Don't raise your fist at me in anger, I warned you and you did not listen.

Your Maker

Sunday, February 5, 2012

From one Fellow Vapor to Another

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Disciple Now, a youth retreat with the church I attend. We talked about our identities in Christ, eternity and faith manifested through works. Overall, the weekend was super fun and it refreshed my thoughts on a lot of simple, meaningful truths that I often let myself forget, or often think I've been a Christian too long to even bother thinking about. What a prideful attitude though. I was reminded that if I'm not constantly digging in the Word and acknowledging Christ Jesus as my identity, then I'm going to be attacked by the devil. How can I ever let myself feel like that is Christian "baby food" or something. Those things right there are core.

Anyhow, on to the real purpose of this post...

Like I said, we talked about eternity a lot. And it really got me thinking about our lives in comparison to forever. When you think about it, you realize that you can't really think about it. I mean, our minds are so finite, that it's impossible to even grasp the whole concept of forever. When I think about it, I just think of forever, but my mind automatically puts and end on that. Then I try to push my mind to think past that end. But the longer you try to do this, the harder it seems to really understand eternity. See, we live of such a time-based, time-centered world. "All good things must come to an end." But, eternity won't be that way. I find myself literally chasing my brain around in circles trying to wrap my mind around this too-big-for-humans truth.

To help us even grasp a mental image of our lives compared to eternity, I'll give a few inadequate, petty, unworthy examples. One word in a dictionary. A drop of water in the ocean. A single fiber in the carpet. A sewing pin in a haystack. One grain of sand on a beach. Although these might help us understand the brevity of our lives in light of forever, even these earthly examples have an end.

To make the thought of eternity even harder to understand, let's consider the fact that we will go through eternity with extreme emotions. Like extreme extreme. Think about the most guilty, angry, mournful, bitter, fearful or painful feeling you ever felt. Now, imagine feeling that certain emotion even stronger. Imagine it several times, always trying to imagine it more intense than the time before. Your worst nightmare can't familiarize the terror you will feel if you spend eternity in hell because you rejected the message of Jesus. Two unthinkable things together: the highest state of horror forever.

But, on the flip side. Every positive, beautiful emotion you've ever had. Multiply those. And imagine them again and again, greater every time until you feel like your brain will pop. Crazy happiness, overwhelming love, forever and ever.

My finite mind can't even scratch the surface of this.

Those are the two options for eternity. I know I used this verse in my last post, but I shall use it again. James 4:14 "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." If my life, compared to eternity, is really like a vapor that vanishes in a moment, why the HECK am I living that moment for myself? Why am I living that moment, for the moment, when all the rest, of the rest, of the rest, of the rest, of the rest of eternity is waiting. Eternity is what I should be living for! I have this one breath, this one moment, to impact my eternity and to impact someone else's eternity.

Why am I wasting time saying, "Oh, what will he think of me?" when that person's and my eternity are on the line.

 I guess I'm just realizing the absurdity of not speaking out, sharing my faith, living on the edge, breaking the mold, impacting people, serving and pursuing God. Why? Why am I trading eternal, unimaginable rewards and pleasures for a second of earthly satisfaction - which is literally just a blip in eternity? 

The Vapor